France hosts the world for two weeks

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Author:

Yann Lesestre is a Master Student in Public Affairs and Energy policies in Sciences Po Paris. He has joigned the CliMates Training team in February 2014 and has become CliMates’ Secretary General in 2015.

If you heard Laurent Fabius -French Foreign Minister and an experienced French political leader- presenting its role as a COP president, you probably have been told this story: when the hosting of the COP21 in France was decided at COP19, his foreign colleagues didn’t tell him “congratulations”. They wish him “good luck”.

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Being a COP president is not about exercising an influence on the content of discussions. It’s about facilitating discussions among the 195 other parties. What a difficult job to set up a proper framework for a universal agreement on climate change and push states and non-state actors to commit for climate change action!

It is too soon to assess the efficiency of the French Presidency strategy to reach an ambitious agreement. But the COP21 president proved in the lead up to the cop his willingness to make the conference of Paris more than just a success, but  a turning point for the mobilization of a wide variety of actors on climate change.

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Star COP21 Episode 1 : The Phantom agreement

This article is part of the Climate Nerd Chronicles

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      For 21 years, the United Nations Parties have gathered to manage the climate crisis. The trading coalitions and big firms have successfully delayed action to decrease green house gases emissions and stop climate change.

      The Parties have not yet managed to find a common agreement and as the climate situation, the delegates meet once again in Paris.

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A battle of good vs evil will take place in the COP21 plenary room for the next two weeks

      As the milestone session, called COP21, opens, delegates have been joined by their Heads of State to tackle the climate crisis. 47,500 people came from all around the world for this special occasion. Everyone who matters is present at this session : the Parties of course, but also the infamous Trade Federation, and even civil society. And so the show begins today, and each player takes their rightful places in the game, stating their positions for two weeks to come. Speeches succeeds to speeches.

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Leaders open COP 21 with an emphasis on solidarity and intergenerational equity to drive the climate journey

Australia_Buchan_photoAuthor: Elizabeth Buchan has a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Policy) and Bachelor of Arts (International Relations and French), from the National Australian University. She currently works in the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator.

 

The Twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21) opened today at Le Bourget in Paris, France. An international spotlight is shining on the talks, especially today as the event opened with speeches from world leaders.

There were some key themes cutting across many of the messages from world leaders:

Solidarity with the French

All of the leaders expressed their condolences to the French government and citizens following the terrorist attacks in the last few weeks. Barack Obama reinforced the need for the Paris agreement to be a success because ‘what better way to reject terror than to work together to save the planet they intend to tear apart’? These collective sentiments emphasised the need for the Paris Agreement to be a success that is more than ink on the paper, but an agreement that is meaningful and applicable to all countries.

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A Mate in Geneva

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Author: Thomas Desaunay is a chemist specialized in energy conversion and storage. After four years of research in the field of innovative fuel cells and batteries, he decided to broaden his horizons and bring his scientific expertise to tackle climate change.

 

I attended for the first time an UNFCCC intersession that was held in Geneva from 8-13 February. This year, four such meetings are scheduled in order to prepare the Paris agreement (next one 1-11 June in Bonn). As a member of the CliMates’ delegation, I was a NGO observer, representing youth in the YOUNGO constituency. So, what’s really going on in these sessions?

Optimism is still on

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Barack Obama’s Climate Speech: A counter-article

Author:  Sébastien Burgess, born in Paris in 1989. Graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Conservation and Resources Studies. Lives in Mexico City where he works as a cartographer on local environmental projects and sports commentator. Has been involved in environmental activism since his college years and is a proud member of CliMates since its creation in 2011.
Follow me on Twitter @BurgessSeb

Barack Obama’s speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday, June 25th marked an anticipated political event and set important guidelines for climate change legislation for the United States moving forward. Barack Obama has been dealt a very difficult hand since becoming President of the United States in January 2009th. An economic crisis of unprecedented proportion and a science-denying, climato-septic Republican-led Congress has made his political margin of maneuver to deal with climate change policy extremely limited.

In 2009, the American Clean Energy  and Security Act of 2009 which would have established an ambitious cap and trade system for the United States passed the House of Representatives but died on the Senate floor. Everything went downhill from there, the 2010 Republican Legislative victory temporarily sealed the fate of significant greenhouse reductions legislation to be passed in Congress. In fact, in 2011,the House of Representatives was deemed to be the « most anti-environmental house in the History of Congress »[1] as House Republicans voted a record 191 times to weaken environmental regulations including 27 votes to block action on climate change legislation and this in a year which saw record drought, flooding and wildfires.  The only way Obama could possibly influence climate policy was through direct executive action during that span such as setting limit on car exhaust for US car manufacturers to produce cars that average of 35.5mpg by 2016 for example[2]. Good-willed but woefully inadequate political initiatives for a country that contributes to close to 20% of worldwide Co2 emissions annually  and whose citizens emit around 17.2 tons of Co2 per capita per year.

Fast forwarding to June 25th speech now, which despite its clear benevolence, perspired of political opportunism,  as Obama had carefully avoided the slippery slopes of climate change talks for the past two year yeas, a politically dangerous topic in the United States that Obama was electorally « wise » enough to avoid during his election year. Now comfortably settled into a second term with nothing to lose moving forward and after 4 years of climate inaction, the 44rth U.S. president could courageously roll up his sleeves and attack the most serious topic our generation and our children will face this coming century.

Obama’s speech in some ways was a milestone and establishes coherent guidelines in terms of reducing greenhouse gases and launching a war on coal, the urgency of elaborating climate adaptation plans in the United States and the importance of re-imitating climate talks at the UN level.  It is a necessary document which hopefully will launch the country into a new dynamic of increased renewable energy use, cleaner consumption and increased awareness about the impending climate threat. However, upon further study, it falls well short of the mark and of launching a necessary global impulsion, a push that the United States could and should embrace to lead the way into a cleaner and more sustainable 21st century. Lire la suite

Forward On Climate Rally: 50,000 People Say No To Tar Sands And Make History In The US

Author: Chloe Maxmin
Harvard College, Class of 2015
Founder, First Here, Then Everywhere : http://www.firstheretheneverywhere.org
Twitter: @chloemaxmin

On February 17th, I was part of history. 50,000 people from around North America traveled to Washington DC for the Forward on Climate rally–the largest climate rally in US history. We protested the Keystone XL pipeline and the expansion of tar sands oil.

Tar sands exploitation was recently identified as one of 14 « carbon bombs. » A mixture of clay, sand, water, and bitumen (a hydrocarbon that can be processed into crude oil), tar sands is extracted from under Canada’s Boreal Forest. It is a gooey tar-like substance that must be diluted with toxic carcinogenic chemicals to get through a pipeline. Compared to conventional oil, it is 70 times more viscous, 20 times more acidic, and has three times the spill rate. Producing crude from tar sands also emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions than producing conventional oil. If fully exploited, the combustion of these fossil fuel reserves would cause global temperatures to rise between 5 and 6 degrees Celsius--a level of warming that the World Bank deemed un-adaptable. According to climate scientist James Hanse, « Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. »

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What’s more: the extraction of tar sands has devastating effects on local communities, especially First Nation peoples. Chemicals from the extraction site contaminate local water sources, endangering drinking water and affecting wildlifein the region. These communities continue to live traditional lifestyles, living off of the land and depending on  Lire la suite

What we take from Doha

Author: Vivian Depoues is a Master student in Environmental Sciences and Policies at the Paris School of International Affaires (PSIA) and the University Pierre and Marie Curie. He is really passionate by the interface between sciences and politics and by the topics of interdisciplinary work. He is engaged in different projects aiming to facilitate the interactions between specialists and promote innovation. He is also the former Network Director of CliMates.

Last month, just a few days after the end of COP 18, many NGOs organized a debriefing of the negotiations. CliMates did one, as well as 4D, a French NGO committed to advancing sustainable development. What is really interesting in such moments is the diversity of feelings from people coming back from the summits. I had the same impression after Rio+20. It’s almost possible to draw a gallery of the typical reactions, but that’s what I’ll try to do with the example of the four speakers of this 4D conference.

One of the speakers of this conference was Patrice Burger, Director of CARI (CARI is a NGO which is helping African populations in arid areas, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the North Africa). He was very disappointed by the process he discovered in Qatar, and even more by the outcome of the COP. Mr Burger didn’t agree on the way the discussions were structured, nor on the country which had been chosen to organize the conference. He also found civil society mobilization not strong enough. At the end of his speech he tried to draw some positive remarks, based on his personal experience or some side events. This reaction is a classical reaction of someone coming back from his first international summit. These people are usually very passionate and expect a lot, but then discover the heaviness and the difficulties of the UN process.

The second profile in this gallery is that of the specialist like Ludovic Larbodiere from the French Ministry of Agriculture. He went to Doha to listen and take part to the discussion on the very specific point of agriculture. His analysis is more positive, because he does not try to have a holistic approach but focuses instead on Lire la suite